Society of the Sapphire Lotus
A major faction on The Isles of Basilla and Sicily is the Society of the Sapphire Lotus. With a group consisting of scholars, craftsmen, and skilled necromancers, the Sapphire Lotus is responsible for the upkeep of the archipelago's many catacombs. Spirituality isn't discouraged in their order, but it must not interfere with the Sapphire Lotus' duties as scholars and educators. The growth of their order throughout history is due to the fact that Basilla has no laws against necromancy, though the legality of what a mage does with the dead is a different story. In recent times, the need for such an organization has been called into question and public opinion on them is very divided.
The highest title granted in the Society of the Sapphire Lotus is elder. Elders are leaders among the group; skilled mages who act as teachers to the rest of the Sapphire Lotus. They are responsible for ensuring that the order uses magic wisely to prevent any "worst case scenarios". Necromancy is a delicate subject and any wrong move could change the course of the Sapphire Lotus for generations. The rules that keep the order in line are drafted and approved by the elders. One such rule is that reanimation is anathema to the group's beliefs. Beneath the elders are the doctors. Doctors are the highest ranking scholars of the order. The most important task they handle is the creation of a departed's Book of Life. The Book of Life is as it sounds; a record of someone's life from the beginning to end. These books are an integral part of ancestral worship rituals, but also provide information for anyone who wishes to research the history of their family. A Book of Life can take years to compile as much research and care is put into them. Doctors often travel to uncover what they can about the deceased, as well as speak with their remaining kin. Once a Book of Life is completed, it is tucked beside the deceased in the catacombs. Chaplains are the face of the organization. These clerics handle the Sapphire Lotus' public and spiritual affairs, such as collecting bodies that need to be interred into the catacombs. Chaplains also handle a good portion of Basilla's traditional funerals. The funerals are a lengthy affair, lasting anywhere between four to eight days. Parties are thrown in honor of the deceased and the chaplains take the time to learn all they can about the deceased to personalize each celebration. The deceased's favorite foods and drinks are served, their favorite music played by the chaplains themselves. On the final day, the chaplains lead a procession of the deceased's closest friends and family to the catacombs so that the body can be laid to rest. Deacons are the largest division of the Society of the Sapphire Lotus. The deacons are students, mages in training, or junior scholars. Mages are tasked with working inside of the catacombs. They not only keep the tunnels clean and maintained, they also do the same for the bodies that are laid to rest. The dead in catfolk culture are seldom left to decay. Instead, they are preserved through necromancy. The Sapphire Lotus believes that restoring the bodies of the deceased will provide them an easy way onto the material plane during ancestral worship rituals. Mages among the deacons also use their magic for communicating with the deceased, which allows them to pass along a message or even open a direct line of conversation between them and their next of kin.
The Society of the Sapphire Lotus aims to preserve and protect the dead of the Basillian archipelago. They handle many different facets of life that come along with someone's eventual departure, including spiritual guidance and funeral planning. While they claim to be uninvolved in the politics of Basilla, the Sapphire Lotus has often taken a direct stand against the royal families and is willing to do the same should the Basillian Council fall to corruption.
The Society of the Sapphire Lotus was once a sect within The Stargazers, which is the largest clerical order devoted to the goddess, Junori. The Sapphire Lotus was always dedicated to the act of ancestor worship and employed necromancy to aid in their rituals. The Stargazers as a whole were committed to the betterment of catfolk society, but unfortunately, time took its toll on the order. The Stargazers became more fanatical in their beliefs, interpreting Junori's will however they pleased in order to best suit their goals. The Sapphire Lotus was disgusted by the gradual change, but their efforts to return the order to a certain level of balance were met with hostility. When the Stargazers insisted that it was time to move away from the use of necromancy, the Sapphire Lotus broke off from the church and formed their own group. A majority of the founding members turned away from their religious beliefs, making the Sapphire Lotus an agnostic order. While they kept away from the public affairs of Basillian society, it didn't take long for the order to be roped in. The royal families of the archipelago were painfully corrupt and constantly at each other's throats. Of course, the only people who truly suffered were the commoners. The Society of the Sapphire Lotus presented themselves as an obstacle to the royal families and the total control they sought over Basilla. Unfortunately, they didn't have the physical prowess necessary to push the families from their thrones. Despite their lack of power, the Sapphire Lotus succeeded in keeping full corruption at bay while they did what they could to help the common folk of Basilla. The Phantom Insurrection came as a surprise to the Sapphire Lotus, who spent weeks during their own investigation. The truth of the insurrection is unknown to the public, including those among the Basillian Council, but the Sapphire Lotus was able to put the pieces together. As of now, the Society of the Sapphire Lotus intends to keep this information a secret. While they're not trusting of the council that rose seemingly overnight, they are in agreement with the council's belief in building a better future for the archipelago. For the time being, the Sapphire Lotus continues their duties as always, but also keeps a close eye on the council. If the council starts to show the same signs of corruption that the royals did before they were violently ousted, the Sapphire Lotus is ready to take matters into their own hands.